Archaeology Renovation of ancient temple by TTD riles archaeologists



16 th Century temple may lose heritage value.

The remodelling of an temple “acquired” by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) has actually supposedly not matched archaeologists and heritage enthusiasts, who discover it “blatant defacing” of the ancient structure.

Nestling under the Chandragiri hillock, less than a kilometre from the renowned fort of the Vijayanagara kings, the 16 th Century Sri Kodandarama Temple is a residue of the bygone era’s architectural splendour. With advancement around, it is today located in the heart of Chandragiri, 15 km from Tirupati.

The temple is believed to have been built during the fag end of Vijayanagara period, when it was on the verge of collapse. The TTD took over the temple 4 years back, however in the garb of ‘development’, its engineering wing concealed the whole structure. The numerous layers of thick coat of limestone made the sharply etched sculpture of mythological characters go dull or flat. The temple with high heritage value was supposedly not handled with due seriousness. Fortunately, the ‘Vimanam’– the canopy atop the sanctum sanctorum– has actually been left untouched, where one can see the images of Maha Vishnu’s avatars.

Archaeology Uncommon idol

Another function here is the depiction of Lord Rama at coronation. Rama, with Sita Devi seated on his lap, is surrounded by his siblings Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna, all on a single pedestal. The bottom portion has Garuda and Hanuman, where the latter is seen checking out ‘Valmiki Ramayana’. “Rama in Pattabhishekam position is rare and a similar representation is discovered at Ayodhyapattinam, 15 km away from Salem in Tamil Nadu,” observes P. Bala Subramanyam, executive member of Archaeology Research Group (ARG), a voluntary body of archaeologists and heritage enthusiasts.

Though the temple falls quite in Chandragiri fort’s community, it is somehow not covered under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and as such unprotected. When gotten in touch with by The Hindu, ASI Senior conservation assistant (Chandragiri Museum) A. Satyam validated that the temple did not come under his purview, though having abundant heritage worth. Ironically, Srinivasa Mangapuram and Vontimitta are ASI-protected temples under the TTD umbrella, where no such damage is allowed.

As ‘Pavitrotsavam’, the annual purificatory routine, started on Wednesday, which is thought about the precursor to the ‘restoration’ strategy, the TTD is anticipated to use up repair to the leaking roofing system sooner than anticipated. “Ours is an ancient temple and the heavy coat of limestone provided to the walls in the past is certainly preventable. We will try to reverse the damage during the renovation procedure,” said TTD’s Deputy Executive Officer P. Subramanyam.